Grinham Sisters On Course For World Open Showdown
25 Oct 2007
Australian sisters Natalie Grinham and Rachael Grinham are on course for a showdown in the final of the Madrid Women's World Open in the Spanish capital after commanding victories in today's quarter-finals of the sport's biggest-ever women's event.
After two rounds at the city's Club Palestra, action has switched to an open-air all-glass court at the Jardines del Cabo Noval, adjacent to the Palacio Real. The 2007 World Open Championship is the first sports event ever to be held alongside Madrid's historic Royal Palace.
"Glass courts usually all play the same - but this one took a bit of getting used to, as it was quite cold out there," said the 29-year-old Queenslander who is based in the Netherlands. "It's nice to be able to play a drop shot and get winners.
"Anything I hit loose, she'd put away. Omneya's a great shot player - I knew she'd be tough on that court."
When asked about her sister Rachael, the older of the 'Toowoomba Twosome' and surprise winner of the British Open crown in September, Natalie replied: "In the British Open she played the best she's played for a long time. She's got the whole game. I just train hard!"
Natalie will face England's Tania Bailey for a place in Saturday's final: "Tomorrow will be better for both of us from the start, as we'll be used to the court."
Rachael is also celebrating her fourth successive appearance in the semi-finals - in the opposing half of the draw. The third seed took only 29 minutes to get past England's Jenny Duncalf, beating the No9 seed 9-3, 9-2, 9-1.
"I prefer these kind of conditions - this is real squash! I adapt to these conditions pretty quickly and played a lot more shots," said the 2005 runner-up who is based in Cairo. "I felt really good out there today. Jenny wasn't moving as well as she usually does - and didn't have very good length. I was expecting it to be tougher."
Asked for her reaction to the shock defeat of world number one Nicol David by New Zealander Shelley Kitchen in the previous round, Rachael said: "Nicol had a good run - but I think it is inevitable that you're going to have a down. You can't keep winning every match. If we'd played the whole tournament on those indoor courts, Shelley might be world champion!
"I would like to be world number one again - but the World Open is one title I haven't won, so that would be nice," added Grinham senior.
Tania Bailey continued her incredible run in the event with a 9-0, 10-9, 7-9, 9-4 defeat of former world champion Vanessa Atkinson. Struck down by sinusitis on the eve of the championship, fourth seed Bailey struggled with her breathing in both victories leading to the quarter-finals.
"I couldn't quite believe it," said the 28-year-old from Stamford in Lincolnshire after claiming the first semi-final place of the day - and the first of her career in the event.
"I felt really relaxed tonight, whereas yesterday I felt a bit edgy - and Vanessa wasn't moving as well as normal. I did feel a bit tired today, but I was desperate to play well, and I did. Vanessa's won everything there is to win.
"I've been training hard through the summer - and if I hadn't, I probably wouldn't have got through the first two rounds. Two days ago, I didn't have any hopes of getting this far," conceded the England number one.
In the final match of the day, second round heroine Shelley Kitchen finally met her match in Natalie Grainger when she went down 9-2, 9-1, 9-0 to the Pan American Games champion from the USA in just 23 minutes.
"I saw Shelley play a couple of weeks back - and as a result decided to pick my short game tonight," said fifth seed Grainger. "She's such a good driver of the ball, and hits a great length. Nicol was definitely nervous last night and feeling the pressure.
"Club courts and glass courts are always going to be different - but we're all professionals and we just get on with it. I did feel the cold a bit tonight - but once you're playing you forget about it."
A local power-cut midway through the players' pre-match knock up caused a 20-minute delay. "It was quite late anyway - but we had a bit of a laugh as we were waiting for it to be sorted out. There was no point in getting too worked up," said the 2002 runner-up.
When asked about her prospects in the semi-finals against Rachael Grinham, Grainger responded: "I've been looking forward to this tournament for quite a while now, preparing to play Nicol, followed by Rachael. She (Rachael) and I played the final of the Vassar College Open final (early this month) and she beat me 9-6 in the fifth. She will do what she can to push the ball about.
"But if I've learned anything about that match and my quarter-final against Nicol David in the British Open, it's how close I am to the top three in the world. I hadn't caused them any problems for a time, but now I feel I'm knocking on the door again."
 Natalie Grainger (USA) bt  Shelley Kitchen (NZL) 9-2, 9-1, 9-0 (23m)
 Rachael Grinham (AUS) bt  Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 9-3, 9-2, 9-1 (29m)
 Tania Bailey (ENG) bt  Vanessa Atkinson (NED) 9-0, 10-9, 7-9, 9-4 (49m)
 Natalie Grinham (AUS) bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 4-9, 9-2, 9-0, 9-4 (44m)